Shear genius: Get a haircut, help clean up the Gulf
Clare Curley will be helping the oil-spill relief effort in the Gulf of Mexico—and she won’t even need to leave Chicago.
Leftover locks from the Lincoln Park resident’s latest haircut are earmarked to join heaps of tresses that Art + Science—which has hair salons in Evanston, Lincoln Park and Wicker Park—will donate to environmental organization Matter of Trust. The San Francisco-based nonprofit is receiving masses of manes from as far away as Brazil and Germany for Hair for Oil Spills, a program the 12-year-old org launched in 1999 to help clean areas affected by oil spills. “I'm thrilled," Curley says, "to know my split ends could be used to soak up oil in the Gulf.”
Curley's stylist at Art + Science, Julia Bonucchi, wasn’t surprised when one of her clients told her that hair was being used to harness oil. “Hair is one of the most absorbent things known to man,” says the Wicker Park denizen. After she Googled “donating hair clippings for the oil spill,” two results appeared, including one for Matter of Trust. She learned that donated hair is piled into nylon stockings to make “booms,” sausage-shaped depositories that hold oil. Amazingly, a single pound of hair absorbs one quart of oil in about a minute, and the same hair-stuffed stocking can be used up to 100 times.
“This is hair that was just going into the waste stream anyway," Matter of Trust founder Lisa Craig Gautier says. The group, she says, is exploring packaging alternatives such as an eco-friendly mesh to replace the pantyhose that “grandmas from all over are mailing” to her every day.
Art + Science will ship donated hair clippings to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where it's being packaged in one of 12 donated warehouses. Bonucchi anticipates that recycled hair from some 600 clients will be included in the salon's first shipment. "Many of them," she says, "don't even know it."
Hundreds of Chicago salons, including Mario Tricoci, City Slickers City Kuts (611 W Belmont Ave, 773-935-9005) and Bruno’s Barber Shop (3110 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-685-6960)—have signed on to donate clippings to Hair for Oil Spills. Register at excessaccess.org to see the complete list.